Judge in Hunter Biden's gun charges case sets rules for evidence

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In a partial win for Hunter Biden, the judge overseeing his gun charges trial said prosecutors are not allowed to refer to his upcoming California tax trial, child support proceedings in Arkansas or his discharge from the Navy.

But prosecutors will be able to bring up Biden's drug use, portions of his memoir, "Beautiful Things," and a summary of data from his phone and iPad.

Biden, who is President Joe Biden's son, and special prosecutor David Weiss both attended the pre-trial hearing on Friday ahead of the trial’s expected start date of June 3.

Judge Maryellen Noreika also granted the defense's motion to exclude statements Biden made at the July 2023 hearing in which an earlier plea deal collapsed. While Noreika blocked prosecutors from saying the evidence shows that Biden led "an extravagant lifestyle,” she said any drug-related activity of his “might be relevant in this case.”

The trial is scheduled to begin June 3 after a federal appeals court denied Hunter Biden's request to postpone it. Prosecutors are expected to call Hunter Biden's ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle, and his late brother's widow, Hallie Olivere Biden, to testify.

On Friday, prosecutors also indicated they want to call as a witness an employee who worked at the gun shop where Hunter Biden purchased a revolver and filled out a form for the ATF. Hunter Biden's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said that he wants to call the owner of the gun shop as a witness.

Altogether, the government may call 12 witnesses and Lowell said there may be 2 to 3 expert witnesses for the defense. Both parties agreed with the court to tell prospective jurors that the trial may last until June 14.

At different moments during the hearing, Hunter Biden leaned back in his chair or stared at Derek Hines, the lead prosecutor in the case. After he reviewed certain documents, including a list of potential witnesses, Hines handed them to the defense team for the first time.

While some parts of the hearing grew tense, including during discussions between the attorneys and the judge about jury instructions, where Hunter Biden and Lowell looked frustrated and Lowell shook his head, the end of the two-hour affair was more lighthearted as Noreika went over logistics.

Later, as Lowell asked whether Hunter Biden could participate in any potential attorney-judge sidebars near the judge’s bench that might happen during the trial, Lowell indicated that Biden would be allowed to “wander” around the courtroom, a freedom that not all defendants in her courtroom have. Biden chuckled.

Biden's son, 54, was indicted last September on three counts tied to possession of a gun while using narcotics. He pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors have accused Biden of not accurately filling out a form in which he indicated he wasn’t using illegal drugs when he purchased a Colt Cobra revolver in October 2018. Prosecutors also alleged that he possessed a firearm while using a narcotic.

Biden and first lady Jill Biden are scheduled to travel to Wilmington Friday afternoon, where he owns a house, while the pre-trial hearing is going on, to kick off the holiday weekend.

Biden has faced attacks from the right over his son's business dealings. The Republican-led impeachment inquiry has not turned up any evidence to implicate Biden in his son's legal issues and the president has denied any wrongdoing.

The president will be overseas during a portion of his son's trial next month, but is expected to closely monitor developments as a concerned parent, not as an incumbent seeking re-election, according to three people familiar with the president’s thinking.

The president's advisers will be following the trial, watching for any references to him and deciding whether to respond in real-time.

Hunter Biden also faces tax charges in California and on Wednesday, a federal judge granted his request to delay the trial from the original date of June 20 until Sept. 5. He has pleaded not guilty in that case too.

Weiss, the U.S. attorney for Delaware and a Trump appointee, led the investigations into Hunter Biden. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Weiss as special counsel in August 2023.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com